The Best Vinyl Record Stores in Toronto
The best vinyl record stores in Toronto continue to enjoy the resurgence of album as a physical object, complete with wall-worthy cover art and liner notes. It's been at least over two decades since the record shops were as robust as they are in this city, and the pay-off for consumers is excellent selection across a variety of genres that not so long ago would have required a visit to Ebay.
Here are the best vinyl record stores in Toronto.
Sometimes bigger is better, and Sonic Boom occupies a crucial place in Toronto’s vinyl scene because of the sheer size of its selection housed in a gorgeous historical building on Spadina Ave. With strong holdings of both new and used stock in popular genres like rock (both classic and indie) and hip hop, the shop is an unavoidable stop on the city’s collective record buying adventures.
A move from Queen West to Ossington did nothing to diminish the popularity of this vinyl-focused shop, which boasts one of the best selections of new records in the city. The focus is on pop and indie rock, but you’ll find a bit of everything here. The store is also one of the key destinations for securing tickets to independent shows in Toronto.
With three locations spread around the city, the mini-empire that Kops has built is proof-positive that record shops are viable businesses in Toronto. How did they do it? At least in part by stocking items that you won’t find anywhere else, like 45s and other rarities. Staff describe the Danforth location as a “music museum,” which only hints at all the amazing finds they have waiting to be discovered.
When this record shop opened on the west side of Little Italy in 2012, it was one of the first signs that vinyl was experiencing a resurgence in Toronto. Much has happened since then, including significant growth when it comes to the offerings at June. Not only are there more records to browse than ever, but the shop has an excellent selection of turntables and doubles up as venue on regular occasions.
It’s days as a Yonge St. institution are behind it, but Play De Record is still a hub for the city’s DJs. Those looking to collect hip hop and dance records know to stop here, but it’s also the top spot in the city to learn all about turntables, from the various models that they carry to the Play De Record Academy, which teachings basic DJ skills.
Grasshopper burst onto the scene in 2012 on Dundas West, when Toronto record collectors were suddenly blessed with a new crop of vinyl shops to add to their weekly rotation. It’s been a popular spot since day one for its long hours (record collectors love night shopping) but also its great selection of hip hop and classic rock. There are occasional complaints about pricing, but hard-to-find items are always at a premium.
This aptly named record store sits at the back of Token Gift Shop in Leslieville and demonstrates the degree to which vinyl has become a lifestyle item. Instead of thinking about this in negative terms, a place like Tiny Record Shop reminds customers that music is an integral part of the home. Given the spatial restrictions, the selection is focused mostly on classic rock and pop albums.
Holding down the fort in Bloordale, Dead Dog Records is kind of like Sunrise 2.0 in that it’s run by former employees of the once mighty chain. Here you’ll find plenty of new stock in genres like pop and rock, but also plenty of merch and music-related accessories. It’s fun record store that draws collectors out on a regular basis.
Serious record collectors know that Cosmos is a place to visit on a weekly basis. Between the two nearby locations, you’ll find collections of old school hip hop, soul, electronic, jazz, psych, and a host of other worldly genres that you’d think would require a visit to Ebay to stock up on.
Soundscapes still shows tons of love for the CD, making it a rarity in the Toronto record shop scene. It seems like there’s more and more vinyl every day, though, as the trend continues to grow in this city and beyond. Along with being a crucial source for concert tickets, the store is just one of those places that highlights how artful music products are. Packaging has never mattered more, and Soundscapes gets this.
The best way to describe LPs LPS is as a record collector’s record shop because that’s exactly what it is. Owner Lorenz Peter opened his store on Dundas West at the top of Roncesvalles when he realized that his personal collection had gotten a little out of hand. Head here for good prices on classic rock, pop, and Canadiana.
A place to find gems from British Invasion rock outfits, In the Groove is a collector’s paradise if not the best place for newbies. It helps to know what you’re looking for here because the shop might just have that record you’ve been lusting after for a long time. The prices reflect the shop’s decision to focus on rare items rather than mainstream stock.
Hector Vasquez at Kops. Writing by Luke Corrado.
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